April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month


WAKEFIELD — More than 3,000 people were killed in distracted-affected crashes nationwide in 2012. The Michigan State Police and National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration seek to educate the public about the dangers of distracted driving.

When visiting the MSP website, the first banner reads, “One text or call could wreck it all,” as part of the national campaign to bring awareness to distracted driving.

April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month in the United States.

“Distracted driving is a known serious problem, however, drivers are still partaking in this dangerous activity and putting their lives and others at risk,” said state trooper Jerry Mazurek of the Wakefield Post. “Paying attention to the road and your surroundings can make the difference in preventing a crash and arriving home safely.”

Distracted driving is any activity that diverts a driver’s attention away from driving.

“Distracted driving includes texting, using a cellphone, eating or drinking, talking to passengers, grooming, reading, using a navigational device, watching a video or adjusting a radio, CD player or MP3 player,” the MSP release said.

The three types of distractions are visual, manual and cognitive.

According to the MSP release, “Visual involves taking your eyes off the road, manual consists of taking your hands of the wheel and cognitive involves taking your mind off what you’re doing.”

This is one reason texting while driving is especially dangerous, as it involves all three types.

“Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, which at 55 (miles per hour) is equivalent to driving the length of a football field,” the release said.

According to the NHTSA website, cell phone use is a major problem.

“At any given daylight moment across America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving, a number that has held steady since 2010,” the website said. “Distracted driving has become a deadly epidemic on America’s roadways.”

The MSP offered some tips to help decrease distracted driving:

—Familiarize yourself with vehicle features and equipment before driving.

—Preset radio stations, MP3 devices and climate control.

—Secure any items that may move around in the vehicle. Do not reach behind the seat to pick up loose items.

—Ask passengers for help with any activities that may be distracting.

—Do not text, access the internet, watch videos, plays games, search MP3 devices or use any other distracting technology while driving.

—Avoid smoking, eating, drinking and reading while driving.

—To deal with children, pull safely off the road and out of traffic.

—Do all personal grooming at home, not in the vehicle.

—Review maps and directions prior to departure.

—If driving long distances, schedule regular stops every 100 miles or every two hours.

—Travel at times when you are normally awake and stay overnight somewhere instead of driving straight through the night.

—Avoid alcohol and medications that may make you drowsy or disoriented.

For more information about distracted driving, visit michigan.gov/msp.


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